Follow the Leader

 Are you ready to play follow the leader? In the game, follow the leader, a leader is chosen first and then everyone lines up behind the leader. The leader then moves around or does something and all the people have to mimic the leader’s actions. Any person who fails to follow or do what the leader does is out of the game. In the business world, it is actually somewhat similar. You are typically chosen to be the leader by the senior management and you might expect people to follow you. Well, we certainly hope so, but will they? Let’s see. So why will they follow you? Great leadership involves many things that we will talk about, but first, I want to talk about people or your team would even follow you. I suggest to you that if you give them what they need so that they can feel comfortable, confident, satisfied, and also that they believe in you, that you are there for them, they will follow you.

So what do effective leaders give their teams to get them to follow? Well, what do followers actually want from their leaders? Okay, the following four key points of this discussion will provide you the platform you need to build the connection with your team that will enable and support change and motivate your team in a lasting way. The first is trust. The basis of all solid, well-functioning relationships. The ability to trust a leader is essential to cultivate followers and the one requirement that successful leaders cannot afford to take for granted is trust. In a high-trust environment, not only is there less organizational chatter, but tasks get done more quickly, with a lot less effort and time. So there are three critical factors to consider when determining how trustworthy someone is. First, a leader needs to deliver results in a quality manner.

They need to follow through on business commitments and hold others accountable to their commitments. Second, a leader needs to demonstrate integrity. They need to behave in a consistent, reliable manner, be open with information, and walk the talk when it comes to ethics and values. Third, they need to show a concern for others and promote the wellbeing of their team members. When any one of these factors is missing, the equation may go to zero. How are you delivering on the three factors of trust? What will your team members say? Okay, the next point. Compassion. People want leaders who care about them as people.

According to a Gallup research, when 10, 000 employees were asked what great leaders contributed to their lives, they said caring, friendship, happiness, and love. When people feel as if someone cares, not only are they more engaged and productive, they’ll stay around longer. Less turnover. Certainly something you’ll want as a leader. Turnover is expensive. You might hire, train, integrate with the team, etc. What kind of environment are you creating in your company, your organization? How do you show your business colleagues that you care about them as people? Next is stability.

People want security, strength, support, and peace of mind. Those are the words that were used on the surveys that Gallup conducted. People want some sense of stability in their work environment which can be challenging for leaders to provide in tough economic times or tough or challenging times for your company or organization in particular. By providing a sense of security, the team will know you will lead them through and out of even the most troubling or turbulent times. Stability provides that foundation element to enable them to follow. How are you providing the sense of stability in your company or organization? What information are you sharing to give people confidence about the business and how often are you sharing it? Next, hope. Finally, followers want to know that there is a future and a direction for how they see themselves in the team, the organization and the company. The most engaged employees that Gallup surveyed were the ones that had faith in their leader’s vision, generating both optimism as well as a higher level of productivity. Without hope, uncertainty and paralysis can set in, uneasiness, and if you’re only working on the day to day, there is no time to create a bigger picture for your followers, so set and reset the vision and your action plans for change.

All these are important–trust, compassion, stability, and hope, but to me, trust is really a biggie. It is the major foundation for connecting with other people.